Cardinal Sodano's Speech at U.N. "Summit Against Hunger"

"This Struggle Must Address a Series of Complex Factors"

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NEW YORK, SEPT. 21, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address delivered Monday by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano during the meeting held at the United Nations, on new ways to address the problems of world poverty and hunger. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva presided over the session.



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Mr. President,

I have the honor of expressing the adherence of the Holy See and the personal adherence of His Holiness John Paul II to the important initiative of this meeting, promoted by the president of the Federal Republic of Brazil, which has received the support of numerous governments here represented.

In this respect, I wish to express briefly a few considerations.

1. We are all aware of the gravity of the problem of hunger in the world. The Holy See is particularly concerned about it, and wishes to assure here all the effort of the Catholic Church to eradicate this scourge from the world. Every Christian, in reality, must make his own Christ's attitude toward his fellow countrymen without food: "Misereor super turbam, quia [...] nec habent quod manducent." "I have compassion on the crowd, because they [...] have nothing to eat" (Mark 8:2).

For its part, the Holy See has always supported the numerous personal and collective initiatives to solve this drama. In this connection, it is important to recall the vast humanitarian action of Catholic institutions worldwide, especially in the missions and in the poorest countries.

2. In this same connection, the Holy See has also supported the initiatives of different U.N. organizations, and in particular the FAO, IFAD and WFP, directly involved in activities to combat hunger and food insecurity.

The inspirational principles of the Holy See's position in this context were already amply illustrated in my 1996 address in the FAO, and they refer to respect for the dignity of the human person, the implementation of the principle of solidarity, the carrying out of the principle of the universal destiny of the goods of the earth, and the promotion of peace.

And it was precisely in 1996 when solemn commitments were made, by all the countries, which were later consolidated in the celebration of the advent of the third millennium. The Holy See also adhered to those solemn commitments of all the heads of state and government contained in the "1996 Report of the World Food Summit" and, subsequently, in the "2000 U.N. Millennium Declaration."

3. Thus an alliance was initiated against hunger in the world, but later, little by little, it was discovered that sufficient funds were lacking to address a program of world food security. Praiseworthy is the effort made in face of emergencies, caused by natural disasters or wars. But, of course, the problem is much more vast. The struggle against hunger, and I would also say against thirst, goes beyond mere emergencies; this struggle must address a series of complex factors such as, for example, the need to invest in the human capital of local populations (I am thinking of the areas of education and health), of requesting the transference of the appropriate technologies and of guaranteeing equity in international trade. This, however, must not discourage the elaboration of a program that will lead to the eradication of hunger and thirst in the world.

4. We welcome, therefore, a new effort to "aumentar a disponibilidade de recursos para enfrentar aqueles desafios" ["increase the availability of resources to address those challenges"] and, more than that, to "examinar fontes alternativas de financiamento ao desenvolvimento" ["to examine alternative sources to finance development"] (Letter of the President of Brazil to His Holiness John Paul II, June 25, 2004).

Surely one of the main problems which makes such a program arduous is that of funding. On one hand, we will have to remind all the donor countries again about their commitment to increase public aid for development to 0.7% of each state's GNP. Then innovative ways will have to be pursued which are now being suggested, also keeping in mind the consensus already manifested in Monterrey and supporting particular initiatives such as that of the International Finance Facility.

5. For its part, the Holy See will give its own support in this respect. This will be an enormous enterprise, together with the one being carried out against sicknesses and misery in general. Thus what is indispensable to live will be facilitated to every human creature loved by God, with an immense dignity, in his image and likeness. I have spoken of misery and not so much of poverty because the latter -- although it is necessary to intensify the efforts to address it -- will always be with us in different ways. Because of this, the words are always timely of a great bishop of your land, Mr. President, the much remembered Monsignor Helder Câmara, who said: "The poor man barely has what is indispensable to live and no more, but the wretched man does not even have the indispensable."

It is this, the indispensable, that we must give to every human creature!

[Translation by ZENIT]